October 17, 2017

Everything I Never Told You: A Rambling Review (Adult)

18693763Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng 

I found this to be a really fascinating look at a family that slowly disintegrates into strangers. From a psychological perspective, watching these interpersonal relationships fall apart was compelling, but from a story standpoint it was also depressing (I mean, you know right from the start that one of the daughters has died, it's literally the first sentence). You just watch as things get worse and worse and the characters all make such poor choices and you want them to do better. And communicate – they all needed to learn how to communicate with each other! Nevertheless, their faults felt very human. The theme of parents trying to live vicariously through their children and pinning all their past hopes and dreams on them was so true to life.

The writing was simple – no overwritten, purple prose here — but powerful. The choice to jump back and forth between past and present, while occasionally confusing, was a smart one; the jumping around between characters' heads in 3rd-person worked to let the reader in on what each character's mindset was (although I will confess I sometimes briefly got confused about which person's head I was in now).

My biggest quibble was with a scene towards the end (I guess, kind of the climactic scene?) in which a character behaved in a way that didn't seem all that realistic. Spoiler, highlight to read: Lydia jumping into the water and thinking she could "save" herself. I mean, I get that she was thinking symbolically, and that it was tied to this memory, but still. She knew she couldn't swim. Surely she'd have a better sense of self-preservation than that? Especially given that she'd made up her mind to stop letting her mom decide what she was going to do in life, and figure it out for herself.

I also found that the beginning was pretty slow-moving, and I was itching for things to happen in the present-day storyline, instead of flashing back to the past. But soon enough I became used to the format and all the drama started happening (past and present!) which kept me engaged.

Overall, a realistic look at the perils of keeping feelings boxed inside — just be prepared for everything to keep getting worse for the family before it gets better.

4 shooting stars.  



  1. Sounds interesting. It seems communication in fiction is the same as in real life...at times sorely lacking.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  2. Sometimes it's good to keep going in a book, even if it seems slow at the start.


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